As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Archive for the ‘50s’ Category

In a Lonely Place

Posted by Hedwig on July 22, 2009

Inspired by this great video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz and Kim Morgen, I recently re-watched In a Lonely Place with the boyfriend, who’d never seen it. I loved it, even more than the first time, for all the reasons mentioned in the essay, and had to wipe away a tear or two by the end.

The boyfriend, however, was lukewarm. This made me think, since his two main points of criticism made quite a bit of sense. First of all, he deplored that Gloria Grahame’s Laurel Gray, who starts out the film as a self-possessed, assertive woman who knows exactly what she wants (and doesn’t want), turns into a loving, subservient pillow-fluffer overnight, whose happiness depends entirely on the mood of her man, and who is scared of him to boot. His second problem with the film was that he had a hard time empathizing with Dixon Steele, because of his violent temper.

See why I love him?
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Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes (Dassin, 1955)

Posted by Hedwig on September 22, 2008

They observed it on filmspotting, and it’s absolutely true: nobody does “cool” like the french, maybe because they don’t even seem to try. Tony (dit: le Stéphanois) isn’t cool at all if you hear the description: he’s just spent 5 years in jail, he has a nasty cough, he beats his former girl with a belt (ouch), and during the magnificent, achingly tense heist at the center of this movie, his forehead is glistening with nervous sweat.

But cool? That he is, indubitably, maybe even because of his all-too-obvious humanity. He’s cool because even when he’s so stressed out, he never pauzes to wipe the beads of sweat off, and he never succumbs to the temptation to talk, make a joke, whatever: like in the heist scene in Le Cercle Rouge, not a word is spoken. Everyone knows exactly what they should do when, and while it takes longer than they had planned, they just keep on working. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Hedwig on September 17, 2008

My parents recently gave me three wonderful, old-fashioned linen posters of Casablanca, Gone with the Wind and Niagara. My love for the former has been well-documented here, and the middle one I’ve seen twice, but the latter? I’d never even heard of it, depite it starring Marylin Monroe and Joseph Cotten.

By accident, we acquired three (3!) copies of it, however, and tonight I watched this movie, reputed to be “the first noir in color”, with my father.

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The Killing

Posted by Hedwig on September 5, 2008

I might be giving my new boyfriend a cinematic education of sorts (you’ll hear about his test results soon), but I’m far from a professor. A T.A., at most, I would say. I’m a cinephile, and I know more about movies that probably about 95% of the population, but compared to most cinema lovers, my filmic resume is rather meagre. My own cinematic education is far from complete, and working on that is one of the goals for these few months “in-between” I’m in now. I don’t know how much I’ll actually get done (both of my employers have realized I’m available, and I seem to have less free time than before), but I thought Stanley Kubrick’s debut film wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

The Killing is a heist movie. That I knew. I didn’t expect, however (due to previous experience with Kubrick’s work) that it would be so briskly paced and – dare I say it – almost playful. Ok, so maybe most people wouldn’t consider the rigidly narrated overview of the events playful, but to me the jumping back and forth in time, illuminating all events from multiple angles, showed an almost playfyl fascination with the inner workings of a crime.

My one beef? It’s all too obvious from the beginning who the weak link is, and where the plan will fall apart. Worse: it should have been obvious to the participants as well. I guess the lure of money (a lot of money) can make people do unreasonable, risky things, but come on! Of course, though, there had to be a weak element, a hitch, not just because of the production code (which was weakening already around then), but because a perfectly planned heist going perfectly is, well, boring.

Still, I loved how the plan was unveiled bit by bit, without a grand, lengthy expository scene, but also without leaving us totally in the dark, giving us exactly the clues we need to figure out what’s what. I also loved the scene with the boxer I quoted from in my preview post. And the robber with the clown mask is such an iconic mask, it elicited a feeling of recognition, even if I’d never seen this movie before.

Incidentally, for a more elaborate discussion, see episode #217 of filmspotting: they discussed The Killing as part of their heist movie marathon (from the 40:55 mark), of which I hope to sample more movies soon (their discussions of Rififi and especially Le Cercle Rouge left me very curious.

Also, props to Kaj from guessing the film from the quote, and manifesting this by replying with another appropriate one.

Posted in 50s, Reviews | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »